Carol Platt Liebau: Free Speech and Freedom

Monday, December 04, 2006

Free Speech and Freedom

Newt Gingrich is right -- the First Amendment isn't a suicide pact, and it is eminently constitutional for reasonable restrictions to be placed on speech that's intended to facilitate the murder of Americans.

You can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Use the "n-word" as part of a comedy routine and you'll be (rightly) shunned. Why do many of the same people agree wtih both those restrictions on free speech -- and who think it's just fine to limit political speech in the run up to the election -- get the vapors when the discussion turns to the possibility of shutting down terrorist-abetting web sites?

2 Comments:

Blogger Josh said...

Being shunned because you're a racist is not a restriction on free speech. You're free to say whatever you want about blacks, and everyone else is free to hate you for it. This is how free speech works.

As long as the government isn't telling anyone they can't use hate speech there is no retriction.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

That's not true. As long as the government isn't regulating or suppressing speech, it isn't a violation of the First Amendment. But speech can be restricted in many ways, for better or worse -- and one particularly powerful means is through social sanction. It's a little sad that so many people in America today look on government as the only truly important and meaningful arbiter of personal behavior.

9:14 AM  

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